Grilling is not only a fave summer pastime, it’s also an art. A delicious, seasonal, bust-out-the-cold-brews-and-relax kind of art. But let’s be honest. There are only so many times you can grill a steak, Portobello mushroom, or kebab on the grill before you start looking for new foods to toss over those hot coals. But lo!—there are far more things out there just waiting to be cooked over an open flame, to be singed, charcoal-crusted, and devoured on the patio. Here are four of our favorite surprising foods to cook on the grill this summer season.
Why grill eggs? Why not! You can boil them, fry them, scramble them, bake them, and yes—even grill them. Aside from the sheer thrill of impressing your friends at the next summer BBQ, the result of grilling eggs is a smoky flavor with a slightly creamy texture.
There are two basic ways to cook eggs on the grill: by cooking them in-shell and by cooking them in another medium. To grill them whole, in the shell, you essentially place them over a hot grill and cook until the shell is browned, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes. (Epicurious has a recipe for doing this Vietnamese-style.) The other method is to grill the eggs inside something else that will go on the grill. Crack the eggs into a halved bell pepper, a cast-iron skillet, or a lined muffin pan, then place on a hot grill and cook.
Cooking pizza on the grill is so straight-forward, it’s a surprise more people don’t do it during the summertime—especially considering how much we Americans love our pizzas. The protocol on this one is almost exactly the same baking pizza normally.
Roll out your pizza dough (assuming you are using raw dough here) to regular pie-ish size, about 10 to 14 inches in diameter. Brush both sides of the dough gently with olive oil; place directly on a hot grill (preheated to high heat) and let cook about 3 to 4 minutes. (Basically, you’re par-cooking the dough here.) Now, flip the dough over; arrange a thin layer of tomato sauce and any toppings lightly on top. Cover the grill and let it cook until dough is bubbly and golden and toppings are warm, anywhere from 5 to 8 additional minutes.
If you’ve ever had the delight of enjoying well-roasted broccoli before, then you know how good they can be when slightly charred and cooked over high heat. The trick to grilling broccoli successfully is pretty obvious: Keep them in big enough pieces so that they don’t fall into the grill.
Start with a large head of broccoli; chop it into long 3- to 5-inch pieces (and peel the thick stalks, if desired). Toss well with olive oil and seasonings of choice (salt, garlic, pepper, lemon zest, and Italian spices are all great options), then arrange carefully on the grill (preheated to medium heat). Cook until the broccoli is slightly blackened and looking bright green, turning with tongs every few minutes, about 7 to 10 minutes in total. Remove to a serving bowl and cover until serving; toss with additional lemon juice and/or salt.
Polenta is truly an underrated food in most American households. It’s a shame, because this versatile grain is such a staple in my household. It’s incredibly cheap to buy in bulk, it takes just 1 other ingredient to cook it (water), and it can be used in just about any recipe for any time of day: breakfast porridge, fried cakes with pasta sauce, scones and biscuits, casseroles, the list goes on. And in the summertime, grilled polenta is an awesome way to fill up on your whole grains while utilizing the patio cookware out there in the sunlight.
To grill polenta, first prepare it in the most basic way: boil in water until creamy, then bake until slightly firm. Next, cut into squares and grill until golden and slightly charred. There’s an easy recipe for this by one of my favorite food writers, Martha Rose Shulman, on NYTimes.com right here. Tip: You can follow this same formula and do grilled cornbread for the summer. Try topping with fresh whipped cream and berry compote for a seasonal dessert.